Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England by Joy Dixon

By Joy Dixon

In 1891, newspapers around the globe carried reviews of the loss of life of H. P. Blavatsky, the mysterious Russian girl who was once the religious founding father of the Theosophical Society. With the aid of the both mysterious Mahatmas who have been her academics, Blavatsky claimed to have introduced the "ancient knowledge of the East" to the rescue of a materialistic West. In England, Blavatsky's earliest fans have been generally males, yet a iteration later the Theosophical Society used to be ruled by means of ladies, and theosophy had develop into a vital a part of feminist political tradition. Divine female is the 1st full-length research of the connection among substitute or esoteric spirituality and the feminist flow in England. Historian pleasure Dixon examines the Theosophical Society's claims that girls and the East have been the repositories of non secular forces which English males had forfeited of their scramble for fabric and imperial strength. Theosophists produced arguments that grew to become key instruments in lots of feminist campaigns. many ladies of the Theosophical Society turned suffragists to advertise the spiritualizing of politics, trying to create a political position for ladies so as to "sacralize the general public sphere." Dixon additionally exhibits that theosophy presents a lot of the framework and the vocabulary for contemporary New Age move. a number of the assumptions approximately category, race, and gender which marked the emergence of esoteric religions on the finish of the 19th century proceed to form substitute spiritualities this day.

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The image of the mystic East, for example, played an important role in the arguments of many Hindu reformers and Indian nationalists. 32 In many histories of feminist political culture, however, the continuing significance of these spiritual claims is ignored. Historians tend to employ a hierarchy of explanation that assumes, rather than demonstrates, the analytic priority of the political or the economic over the spiritual. The point is not to overturn that hierarchy, but to suggest that we need to complicate our understanding of the historical contexts that shape both political and spiritual allegiances, the formation of political subjectivities, and the relationship between secular and sacred in modern political cultures.

Believing themselves to be the morally and spiritually superior sex (a notion that was always partial and contested), some women tried to lay claim to moral and spiritual authority in public as well as in private. Throughout the nineteenth century, women put religion to many and various uses: Primitive Methodists defended women’s preaching, utopian socialists called for a “Female Messiah,” and women in the spiritualist movement used their role as trance mediums both to subvert and confirm separate-spheres ideology.

Sinnett was the editor of the Anglo-Indian civil service newspaper, the Pioneer, published from Allahabad. His prominence within the Theosophical Society, and within London society more generally, was the result of his personal contacts with Blavatsky and, more important, with the Masters whom she claimed were guiding forces behind her work. 34 Sinnett and his wife joined the TS while still in India, in 1879. A year later Blavatsky and Olcott visited the Sinnetts in Simla, where Blavatsky provided demonstrations of her training by the Mahatmas.

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